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Creation of Man

We’re now in STII, and we’ve started the doctrine of man.

Last time we intro’d the topic by talking about why this doctrine is important.

There are many implications for life and culture, both in the church (and outside the church).

It’s a topic that tends to generate a lot of emotional debate between Christians and non-Christians… (And now, even within the church [e.g., human sexuality]).

And so we tried to lay out why it’s not just a point of intellectual discussion, but one that has consequences. So we’ll try to draw those out as we go along.

And then we began, by talking about the various lexical terms that the OT and NT use for mankind.

Today we’re going to take a look at the creation of man.

The Creation of Man

A special creative act.

The definitive text : Genesis 1:26-27.

“Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

-- (asa) עָשָׂה used once in v. 26. This is the term for doing (or actively moving).

It’s a very important term, and one that has important implications for open theists.

It speaks to the fact that He is not passive, but active in his works and efforts. He takes the initiative, and so there’s an intimacy in what He does.

“When used of god, the word frequently emphasizes God’s acts in the sphere of history. These contexts stress one of the most basic concepts  of OT theology, i.e., that God is not only transcendent, but he is also immanent in history, effecting his sovereign purposes.” (TWOT).

-- (bara) בּרָא used 3 times in v. 27.

This also is very important term, because it reveals the fact that God is a creating God. In fact, it’s an essential property of His. So built into the reality of what it means to be God, is that He creates.

“The word is especially appropriate to the concept of creation by divine fiat.” (TWOT)

So when you combine this word with the previous one, one of the first things we learn about God is that He is an active Creator.

Gen. 2:7 - “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

--(yasar) יצַר“The basic meaning of this root is ‘to form/to fashion.’ While the word occurs in synonymous parallelism with bara “create” and asa “make”’ in a number of passages, its primary emphasis is on the shaping or forming of the object involved… When used in its secular sense it occurs most frequently speaks of a “potter,” ie.., one fashions (clay).” (TWOT).

So the term implies creation, but also speaks to “purpose.” There is an end product, or image, that the designer has in mind. So there’s an intentional forming (or shaping) of the object that’s being created-- and it’s being shaped to serve a specific purpose.

Eve’s supernatural origin.

The key passage is Gen. 2:18-25, and what we would say is that your approach to Genesis 1-11 will determine how you choose to understand this.

Without getting bogged down in hermeneutical approaches, we see it best to approach Gen. 1-11 as literal.

There’s no compelling argument to interpret it otherwise. Many scholarly attempts have been made to read it as poetic (or allegorically), but they fail to convince. They’re often technical readings, that require much hermeneutical gymnastics, and again, they do not convince us.

We are very familiar with the discussion and debate.

This is not the time for it. At some point we might deal with it more in depth, but for our purposes, just understand we take a more literal approach to interpretation.

The conclusion, then, is that you must see Eve’s creation as a supernatural act.

The key word in Gen. 2:18-25 is בָּנָה (bana).

“The basic meaning here is “to build” (or “God as Builder”). YHWH is presented in Scripture as the master builder of both the created and historical order. … The word is used to speak of God’s final creative act for man’s good when he ‘built” the rib which he had taken from Adam into a woman (v.22).” (TWOT)

Three times in v.23 the preposition “from” is used in the Hebrew to emphasize the origins of woman. The idea is that she came out from the midst of Adam. There is a real sense in which woman is intimately connected to man, and there appears to be an intimation of this in the sexual union where they are called ‘one flesh.’

In fact, Paul picks up on this in 1 Cor. 11:8.

“For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.”

What’s important, here, is that Paul’s picking up on the role and purpose of woman, not from culture, but creation. When it comes to human flourishing, it’s a matter of man and woman functioning within their God given roles. They ought to be seeking to function in the capacity of their original design.

When people begin to understand this, they’ll start to sense a true meaning in their life. It’s when they seek to usurp that design, and function in a role (or purpose) for which they’ve not been created, things go bad.

When we ignore this, it is a lie we so often believe. But if we can remember the design, and therefore the appropriate roles we’ve each been given, not only will God’s blessing be sure, but at a basic, functional level, things will “work” better.

It’s never good (in the long-term) for individuals, families, and cultures, when they seek to ignore the original design of God.

Necessary conclusions related to man being created (we mean, here, both man and woman-- humanity). Because man was created, it means that he has no independent existence.

Man is part of the creation.

Man, however, has a unique place in creation.

There is brotherhood among men. Individual men and women belong to a class called ‘humanity.”

Man is not the highest object in the universe. God is.

There are definite limitations upon man.

Limitation is not inherently bad.

Proper adjustment in life can be achieved only on the basis of acceptance of one’s own finiteness.

Until we rightly understand what it means to be truly human, we will always go wrong in some capacity.

We can only know what it means to be truly human, up and against the backdrop of first understanding God.

Man is, nonetheless, something wonderful.

The unity of the race.

Gen. 3:20 makes it clear that the naming of Eve (“mother of all the living”) is done with the purpose of communicating that all who would follow have a common mother (i.e., origin).

We see this, as well, in Acts 17:26.

“and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation…”

The key prepositional phrase is ἐξ ἑνὸς (ex enos) “out from one.”

Again, this shows the common origin, and therefore, the unity of the entire human race.

The image of God (imago dei).

Vocabulary used:

Genesis. 1:26-27, 5:1, 9:6.


Paul picks up this language in 1 Cor. 11:17.

εἰκών (eikon).

Much ink and speculation has been spent on this concept.

Is it speaking of a physical concept? Relational? Emotional? Spiritual?

The truth is we don’t fully know.

The main point to understand is that man is unique (and like God) in such a way, that man bears some kind of mark (or likeness to God) that no other aspect of creation bears; not even the angelic realm.

Anything beyond this is speculation. [We’ll talk about this more fully in a minute because we do have some thoughts].


Ὁμοίωσις (homoiosis) in James 3:9.

“With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God.”

These two OT terms, ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ are best seen as synonymous.

Any effort to try to make a meaningful distinction has never been made.

This concept is also implied in Acts 17:28 and Ephesians 3:14-15.

Acts 17:28 - “for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His offspring.'”

Paul is quoting a secular poet here.

But he quotes it because the secular poet’s words contain truth - every person derives their ultimate existence from God.

Every human, whether they acknowledge God or not, still bear His likeness.

Eph. 3:14-15 “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…”

One of the glorious effects of salvation, is that it actually begins the process of renewing the image of God in a person.

Rom. 8:29 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren…”

Eph. 4:23 “ in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

Paul goes on to give a bunch of commands as to what this put off/put on is to look.

The implication, is that as we obey, we more represent the image of God. As we disobey, we move further from that image.

Again, this is only possible with a person who’s been saved, and possesses the Spirit of God.

Other passages which speak of this are 2 Cor. 3:18 and Col. 3:10.

Our final salvation will result in full restoration of God’s image in us.

1 Cor. 15:49 “And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”

1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” [Note the future tense of these verses].

We should take much hope in this.

We often think about the fact we’ve been renewed, but that we still live in a broken world.

The reality is that we ourselves, our still broken.

So coming to Jesus doesn’t just immediately make everything right within you. That won’t fully happen until the resurrection.

We are in the state of being renewed, but we’ve not yet been fully renewed.

Views regarding the image:

Berkhof posits five aspects to the image of God in a person:

-- The spiritual image: the person is a spiritual being, which means that one is endowed with the qualities of simplicity, spirituality, and immortality.

-- The rational image: the person is a rational and moral being, which means he has intellectual power, volitional freedom, and natural affections.

-- The moral image: the person was created in true knowledge, righteousness, and positive holiness. These qualities are being restored in the believer through the saving work of christ.

-- The corporeal image: Scripture affirms that the whole person, not just the soul, was created in God’s image. The body functions as the proper organ of the soul.

-- The functional image: dominion of the lower creation forms part of the essence of the person.

Carl F. H. Henry states, “The Bible does not define for us the precise content of the original imago.”

We like this one the best.

The reason, as we’ve already stated, is that all discussions, therefore, related to the image of God in man, are essentially theological in nature, rather than exegetical and biblical.

Again, it’s theological speculation -- which is okay. But it does mean that it is difficult to speak dogmatically on this.

In fact, usually the various views fall into three categories, though the names of the categories vary from theology to theology. Erickson uses the terms, “Substantive, Relational, and Function.


This is based off the meaning of the Hebrew word, “image.” The basic thought is that there is some essential similarity between man and God.

Some would say that it is physical, others would say that it is psychological, and others would say it’s spiritual.

There is no reason to reject that there’s some type of physical connection, but only if understood that it is not the only aspect of the image.

The common view in this position is that man’s image is seen in his ability to reason.


This sees the “image” as being essentially connected to the relationship or standing that man has with God.

It’s not so much that personal relationship with God, as much as it’s the idea that man is responsible and answerable to God, especially in a moral sense.


With this one, the “image” is seen primarily in what man does.

The most common way this is shown is through the way man expresses dominion over creation (i.e., cultural mandate).

Finally, there’s the view that combines all three positions.

Usually, the first view is the most basic and foundational to the idea of imago Dei because it is describing man’s ontological reality (what he actually is).

The other two views, then build off this. What man does is going to be a function of what man is.

As intriguing as some of this might be, it is wise to be very cautious in trying to be too specific and too rigid… or even too full in your understanding of the “image."

Simply put, God was content to declare it as true, without needing to define it.

The retention of the image:

Gen. 9:6 shows the importance of the image.

"Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”

This obviously gets into things like the death penalty.

Remember, this was pre-mosaic covenant, so in our view, this is lasting ordinance.

Many argue the death penalty diminishes the value of life, personhood, and the imago dei.

But we’d argue that it actually exalts it.

It shows just how precious human life is, and that it’s therefore to be protected.

And so much so, that to extinguish life (or the imago Dei), is to, then, forfeit your own.

James 3:9-10 -- to desire the unjust harm of a person, is to forget the image they bear.

“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God…”

This verse is interesting because the term, here, for “man” (anthropos) is speaking of mankind in general.

So the implication is that every single human being possesses the image of God.

So the fact that man is still made in the image of God, it creates for us a very real lifeline, spiritually speaking. There is still that genuine connection between ourselves and our God.

The retention of the image of God in humanity also makes the incarnation of Jesus Christ possible.

There is a strong connection between the imago Dei and what’s known as “Adam Theology.” (c.f., Romans 5).

It’s important to understand that there’s points of continuity between us and Christ:

Jn. 1:14 - the Word became flesh.

Heb. 2:14-18 - Christ took on our likeness, not the likeness of the angels. This is important for understanding how Christ is truly able to reconcile mankind back to its Creator (We will get into this in Christology).

But there are also points of discontinuity between us and Christ:

-- Christ is THE IMAGE (Archetype-- the original model), while man has been made according to this image (ectype -- the copy of the model).

In Jn. 10:31 - Jesus says, “I and the Father are one...” We are not able to declare this for ourselves.

Christ is the very image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). This is different than man, who was merely made in His image (Gen. 1:27).

-- In Christ, the fullness of deity dwells (Col. 2:9).

Christ is the exact representation (χαρακτὴρ - “engraving tool”) of His nature. (Heb. 1:3).

So all of these point to the discontinuity of man and Christ.

We are not one and the same as God (like Jesus is), yet we are a unique creation.


So that’s the creation of man.

It is why man is special, unique, and higher, than every other aspect of the creation.

It’s why we ought not to treat our dogs as if they are on par with fellow humans.

It is why we don’t exist for nature, but nature exits for us (something we’ll get into later).

It is why you ought not diminish another human being.

It is why you ought not even to think low of yourself.

You are a special creation of God, and it is sin to diminish His work.

It is why as a redeemed person, you have a special significance.

The image of God, while not yet fully restored, is being restored.

If you’re growing in holiness, you’re becoming more and more like your Creator everyday.

Anyway, that’s plenty for now.

Next time we’ll get into the various aspects of man, which is a fascinating study.


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